Differences in cables

There are a variety of different cables and I’m sure that I’ve forgotten a few.

Some are just labeled “cables”
Some are labeled Powerline. Then there is Powerline+, Powerline+ II and now a III.

What is the difference and wouldn’t it be a good idea to explain those differences?

I’m specifically looking for USB C-C cables in varying lengths to combine with something like a Nano II to run a XPS13 Dell laptop.

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All Anker cables are good. I have never had a failure since their originals and all they have done since appears as cosmetic.

But.

There is one critical technical difference to be aware of is:

  • 100W. USB is rated to 3W and USB-PD is to 20V, so 60W. A cable can only do 60W unless it is rated to 5A at 20V to get to 100W.
  • length. All wires lose energy linearly over their length. A longer cable has more length in which it can develop microcracks in the metal to accumulate resistance. Over the length this represents as a voltage drop. The USB standard accomodates this via allowing the voltage to vary (e.g. a 5V standard can still work to 4.2V) but it is still energy lost as heat within the cable. So if you care about Wattage, get the shortest cable you can tolerate. Shorter cables where power matters most.

Buy the lowest cost Anker cable which is just long enough and ignore everything unless you need >60W then buy a 100W cable.

The bend wear thing they mention, the cable will outlive your need. Standards change and a 20,000 bend survivable cable will likely become redundant before it fails. I paid extra for their top of line USB-A to USB-C cables which now are not used as it USB-C to USB-C mostly. Before that I wasted money of USB-A to MicroB and they are idle as MicroB is not used as much. Today’s cables will become idle due to… something none of us have thought of.

Laptops are going towards 100W, so focus on if you are going to invest in an expensive cable you expect to use long time, get 100W.

Get the shortest cable you can tolerate.

Consider not a wall charger, but a desk charger so the USB cable is shorter. I don’t think Anker has a desk charger with a port more than 45W so this is not a relevant point currently.

I would also tangentially suggest invest in a minimalist Powercore as they kind of get around the cable problem by bringing the power nearer you. Most people should be owning a few Powercore to handle portable and emergency situations and they need maintaining via periodic use. A side-effect is you use them at home / office to deliberately drain them to charge so you get the 4-5 typical years of life. So you would own a few Powercore. These then are being used in lieu of a charger in few spots in your life.

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Thanks for your suggestions - they are certainly spot on.

I should have mentioned that I am a great fan of Anker and have been for many years (back when they first made those upright 4/6 port chargers where one port would periodically quit until you unplugged it for awhile) and have far more USB-A to Micro/C cables than any normal person should have. Powercores? I have a vast assortment and most are great.

Like you, I’m transitioning from A to C to the C to C and I was trying to figure out what the differences were between the cables. I’ve never had an Anker cable fail but I have a Volutz cable (that I quite liked) fail catastrophically taking the phone with it (and Volutz said “too bad”)

With the new USB (USB4 and 240w) standards coming out https://www.theverge.com/2021/9/30/22702453/usb-c-pd-240-watt-charging-usb4-data-transfer-logo-branding-standard I’d caution against buying too many cables if you don’t need them right now.

Thanks again, you verified my suspicion. Now to start giving away all of those USB-A chargers, powercores and cables as I transition to C.

Does anyone have a suggestion for a 1ft USB-A to C cable (I don’t think Anker makes one) but I’d like one for my car.

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Try Aukey, they had some decent cables :+1:

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All my short cables are non-Anker. In fact they are my most used cables. My Anker cables are 3ft typically, some 6ft and seldom ever leave the house, if they do it is to a B&B / guesthouse type scenario.

There is an issue for Anker coming up, they are pushing highly reliable USB-C to Lightning cables but the Lightning port is a “dead man walking” it is technically inferior in all objective measurements so will be killed at some point. So what happens with the cable?

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Right. The Europeans just shut down Apple’s request for an exemption, so at some point in the future lightning cables will be OBE (overcome by events). That said, anybody buying a 13 will most likely need lightning cables for the next several years, so if they slow/stop production now…

My battery packs often have long cables attached (6ft) so the pack can reside in my bag while I have the phone plugged in OR they have a short cable if the battery is sitting on my desk - but I have yet to find any decent short cables and didn’t Aukey get dumped from Amazon as well?

Your question was never really answered so I’ll explain the difference. Powerline series cables are the best, nearly every cable I own is a powerline. The main difference is the build quality and in turn the longevity. The plus + means it’s braided which further increases durability and all powerline+ models have a lifetime warranty. The numbers II and III are the generations of powerline cables. They’ve been made significantly thinner and more flexible while maintaining/increasing durability.

I think you should go with a Powerline+ III USB-C to USB-C cable for your needs. It’s only sold in 6ft but that should be fine for a laptop. If you don’t want to spend that much get a regular powerline III instead you’ll just lose the braiding and lifetime warranty.

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Thanks. That is helpful. Too bad they don’t explain that on the website.

One tends to keep cables for a long time (anybody want some Blackberry Mini USB cables?) so buying decent quality pays in the long run.

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I also wish to see USB 2.0, USB 3.0 or 10gbps designations in the cable. As well as Watt power ratings for charging.